As a teacher of English, I am always delighted to observe celebrations held in honour of anything remotely literary. And yet I have a sneaking doubt about the sudden explosion of Burns' Night events being held next week in and around Manchester - I cannot remember there being this many ever before, so it appears that one of two options must apply here. Either there has been a sudden and marked increase in the appreciation level for Scotland's best known poet, presumably soon to be seen on our streets in the form of romantic souls wandering about quoting wholesale from Mr Burns' collected works, or - and I pass no comment on the likelihood of this second one - people in England are fed up with January and, having used up their Christmas allowance for another year, are looking for an excuse to drink whisky and eat meaty food items.
Whatever the reasons, some of the events on or around the 25th January - Robert Burns' birthday, although obviously if you're celebrating the occasion you already knew that - look exceedingly tempting for anyone who thinks they've eaten dangerously sensibly for the past few weeks. Here is a small sample of what's on offer:
1. The Didsbury Pub, Didsbury is offering a four course taster menu on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (after 5pm, as obviously drinking large quantities of whisky before the sun is over the yard arm would be wrong) - give them a ring on 0161 445 5389 for details or to book. The menu looks good value at £17.99 a head, and includes smoked salmon, haggis, neeps and tatties, venison loin and cranachan; basically all Mr Liz's favourite things, although he is concerned there is no mention of the traditional alcohol accompaniments.
The Didsbury is also to be commended for offering an "Instant Burns' Fix", which is not a soothing word and the careful application of a Mr Bump plaster but a special haggis starter for £4.99 - bravo Mr Johnson for avoiding the potentially nightmare scenario of hungry folk running around calling out for an instant fix of something suitably Scottish and poetic. See the website for more details.
2. The Lime Tree, West Didsbury is following the success of this week's Game Taster Night with a trio of Burns' Night celebrations next week. The "Scottish inspired" menu is available Monday - Wednesday, with three courses at £17.95, or £30 for a glass of wine with each course as well; options include Shetland mussels for starters and breast of pheasant (with haggis, neeps and tatties, naturellement) for mains. Call 0161 445 1217 to find out more.
3. Fat Loaf, Didsbury is also offering a special menu on the 25th at 22.50 per person - four courses, including - go on, guess - haggis. This one does also offer a rather enticing Aberdeen Angus Rib Eye, and also clearly specifies on the menu that single malt whisky will be served along with coffee *watches as husband carefully writes all this down*
Give them a call on 0161 438 0319, or visit their website for more details.
Bearing in mind that The Mark Addy is also doing the Burns' Night celebration mentioned in a previous post - Robert Owen Brown needs little excuse to whip up a towering feast, so that one looks more than promising - and it's really quite an embarrassment of riches. Please do make sure you've swotted up on your poetry though; I will be flitting around a selection of venues on the night testing your Burns' knowledge - just to check you're not there purely for the whisky, of course.